How internet marketers, from Amazon to Uber, are driving growth in global ad spending
The world’s 100 biggest advertisers boosted ad spending by 4.5 percent to a record $291 billion in 2018, powered by internet marketers.
The Ad Age World’s Largest Advertisers top 100 ranking includes 12 internet-age companies—from Amazon to Uber Technologies—that last year collectively increased global ad spending by 26 percent. Spending for the remaining 88 companies rose just 1.8 percent.
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Global growth mirrored U.S. spending growth shown in an earlier Ad Age report, Leading National Advertisers: The top 100 U.S. advertisers last year increased spending 4.5 percent as U.S. spending for 11 internet companies in that ranking jumped 24 percent.
Internet ventures—China’s Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba plus Netflix, Amazon and Japanese retailer Rakuten—dominate Ad Age’s tally of the world’s 10 fastest-growing ad spenders. Netflix and Amazon boosted 2018 spending 65 percent and 30 percent, respectively.
Amazon moved up two slots to take the No. 5 spot among global advertisers with ad and promotion spending of $8.2 billion. Based on Amazon’s spending growth (with stated marketing spending surging 43 percent in the first nine months of 2019), Amazon could rank as the world’s biggest advertiser when Ad Age produces its next global ranking a year from now.
For this year’s report, Procter & Gamble Co. reclaimed the No. 1 spot even as its estimated advertising and other marketing costs fell 3.9 percent to $10.1 billion in the fiscal year ended June 2019.
Samsung Electronics Co. dropped to second place with 2018 ad and sales promotion spending at a rounded $10.1 billion, coming in $21 million below P&G as the South Korea consumer electronics and appliance marketer cut spending 9.9 percent.
Samsung scored No. 1 in the ranking a year ago, which marked the first time P&G wasn’t on top in worldwide spending since Ad Age began the global ranking in 1987.
The ranking comes from Ad Age Datacenter’s all-in assessment of a company’s reported or estimated total spending on advertising, marketing services (including promotion and direct marketing) and digital marketing (including social media).
P&G also is the world’s biggest spender on a narrower definition of advertising. P&G reported $6.8 billion in advertising costs for the year ended June 2019, including TV, print, radio, internet and in-store ads. Samsung’s reported advertising expenses, excluding its massive sales promotion budget, came in at $3.6 billion in 2018.
Walmart, the world’s biggest company by revenue, ranked No. 25 in ad spending. The retailer last year spent a record $3.5 billion on advertising, but that’s still a comparatively low 0.7 percent of its $510 billion net sales.
The World’s Largest Advertisers ranking includes a roster of global marketers, from P&G to No. 100 Dell Technologies ($1.1 billion), with spending increases at 60 of the companies.
The top 100 includes five Chinese marketers—Baidu and Tencent (internet), Yili (food), Alibaba (retail), SAIC (auto)—that collectively boosted 2018 worldwide spending 36 percent. Most of their spending was in China, the second-largest ad market.
Baidu, which operates China’s dominant search engine, more than doubled 2018 worldwide ad and promotion spending to $1.5 billion, the fastest growth among the top 100 spenders.
Ad and promotion spending at internet power Tencent Holdings surged 48 percent to $3 billion. Yili Group, China’s largest dairy marketer, increased ad spending 37 percent to $1.7 billion.
Web retailer Alibaba Group Holding boosted ad and promotion spending 29 percent to $3.3 billion. Ad spending at SAIC Motor Corp., China’s largest domestic auto group, rose about 2 percent to $2 billion.
Personal care and household products was the biggest category among the World’s Largest Advertisers list with 14 marketers spending $50 billion, up just 0.8 percent. Automotive was second with 15 automakers spending $45 billion, down 2.5 percent as companies tightened spending.
The top 100 includes 47 companies based in North America, 29 in Europe, 23 in Asia and one in Latin America (America Móvil, parent of wireless service brands Claro, Telcel and Tracfone).
Ten of the World’s Largest Advertisers had no significant U.S. measured-media spending in 2018: Automakers PSA Group (France), Renault (France) and SAIC; retailers Aeon Co. (Japan) and Rewe Group (Germany); beer and spirits marketer Kirin Holdings (Japan); telecom provider Telefónica (Spain); and Baidu, Tencent and Yili. (PSA has a pending deal to merge with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.)
The global ranking complements the Ad Age Leading National Advertisers report; 83 of the 200 biggest U.S. spenders (and 68 of the 100 biggest U.S. spenders) made the ranking of the world’s top 100 spenders.
The full Ad Age World’s Largest Advertisers ranking and a global marketers database showing company profiles, executives and key agency relationships is available to Ad Age Datacenter subscribers at AdAge.com/globalmarketers2019.
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Ad Age World’s Largest Advertisers 2019 is the 33rd annual global report produced by Ad Age Datacenter. A summary of Ad Age World's Largest Advertisers appeared in the Dec. 23, 2019, print edition. The complete report is online.
Ad Age Datacenter subscribers can access the full Ad Age World’s Largest Advertisers ranking and a global marketers database showing company profiles, executives and key agency relationships at AdAge.com/globalmarketers2019.
Online content includes:
• Ad Age World’s Largest Advertisers 2019: Ad Age Datacenter’s exclusive ranking of the 100 biggest spenders.
• Global marketers database: Profiles, ad spending, executives and key global agencies for Ad Age World’s Largest Advertisers.
• Biggest advertisers by country: Rankings based on measured-media spending.
Methodology: Spending for Ad Age World’s Largest Advertisers 2019 from Ad Age Datacenter estimates and company disclosures.
Total worldwide advertising spending encompasses advertising, marketing services (including promotion and direct marketing) and digital marketing (including social media). Figures are based on calendar 2018 results or, for companies on fiscal years, the most recent fiscal year ended on or before June 30, 2019. Ad Age translated currencies to U.S. dollars at average exchange rates.
The global marketers database also breaks out measured-media spending for top advertisers by country based on Ad Age Datacenter’s analysis of spending data from media tracking services. Links to tracking services available at AdAge.com/globalmarketers2019.
Datacenter directors: Kevin Brown, Bradley Johnson. Senior research editor: Catherine Wolf. Research assistants: Joneil Escobar, Taylor Imel, Bennett Judd, Michael Kuhn, Joy R. Lee.
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